UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Le roman à images : description et fragmentation dans Le Jardin des Plantes de Claude Simon, L’Inauguration de la salle des Vents de Renaud Camus et Terrasse à Rome de Pascal Quignard Falangola, Chiara


The framework used to study the three novels arises from the need to define a particular type of descriptive and fragmented scripta, which textualize an historical or existential disaster. Approaching our texts as ‘romans à images’, we endeavour to create a definition that problematizes the techniques of the ‘conventional’ novel and engenders a new conception of narrative and of its formal dominant, in relation to art and to the notion of incommensurability. The three novels textualize an existential or historical disaster: Simon’s Jardin thematizes World War II through the author’s own experience, as well as the inscription in the text of the painter Gastone Novelli’s post-Holocaust art. Camus’ Inauguration is a three hundred pages long elegy to those friends lost because of AIDS, whose memory the novel tries to preserve. The circular, mirrored structure of L’Inauguration is inspired by the artist Jean-Paul Marcheschi’s work. Quignard’s Terrasse is a series of literary tableaux writing the quest for the origins of and the quest for the self. The poetics of the latter draws heavily from the fictitious 16th century engraver Meaume. The three novels explicitly refer to art and are structured on internal laws, which more closely resemble those of poetry and the visual arts than conventional narratives. They take the form of fragmented and syncopated narratives, constructed by and laid out in a visual mode. The latter is constituted by the juxtaposition of typographically and thematically independent paragraphs – blocs or fragments –, whose unity resides in the harmony or counterpoint of their juxtaposition. The chronological and syntagmatic construction of the ‘conventional’ novel is replaced by a paradigmatic dynamic that assembles and juxtaposes the image-blocs according to the laws created, governed by the signifier's materiality or by the principle of variation. Central to the mimetic and aesthetic work of the three novels is restoration of a pictorial or mental image, which sometimes manifests itself in an obsessive search for the mot juste. The three novels confront the referent in their radical search for an ever-postponed meaning, which seems to become fixed only in the aesthetic elsewhere of pictorial harmonies and poetic suggestions.

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